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Re: CHAT: return of the long-lost (was: RE: THEORY/USAGE: irregular English plurals

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Wednesday, May 29, 2002, 17:04
En réponse à Andrew Smith <andrew.smith20@...>:

> > 1a. I used to climb mountains. > 1b. Used you to climb mountains? > 1c. I used not to climb mountains, (but now I do). > > The interrogative in 1b sounds odd to me, though And's use of exactly > this > construction kicked off the discussion, so it's not completely dead. 1c, > on > the other hand, is perfectly fine to me, though maybe I would also > say: > > 1d. I didn't use(d) to climb mountains, (but now I do). >
We've been taught that 1c was possible but rare and mostly litterary. So in this my teacher was right :)) .
> > Anyway, if I understand you right, you were taught that 1b and 1c should > be > replaced by: > > 2b. Were you used to climbing mountains? > 2c. I wasn't used to climbing mountains. >
> These again are good sentences, but they don't seem to mean the same > thing > as 1b and 1c, in my opinion. The sentences in 1 refer to events in the > past > which were repeated or habitual, while those in 2 refer to things which > were > familiar or the subject had experience in. >
I didn't know there was a distinction like that. But now that you mention it it makes perfectly sense.
> Obviously these meanings are related, because things which you do > habitually > tend to become familiar to you, but there is a difference (I think), so > it's > not really a suppletion, more an approximation. >
Well, seeing that other possibilities seem awkward to many anglophones, the solution I was taught is probably not that bad. In my experience, it's better to use an approximation which sounds grammatical to people rather than a form which sounds awkward to people, however accurate it is. Christophe. Take your life as a movie: do not let anybody else play the leading role.